Tomorrow, the House of Representatives is scheduled to complete its
consideration of the FY 2007 Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Appropriations
bill which provides funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Under this bill, written by appropriations subcommittee chairman Frank
Wolf (R-VA), Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN), and their colleagues,
NASA would receive $16,709.0 million. This appropriation is $83.2 million
below the Administration's request (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/021.html),
and $462.4 million above current funding not including emergency supplemental
There is extensive language in House Committee Report 109-520 which
accompanies this bill, H.R. 5672. Much of this language is shown below;
the complete text may be read at http://thomas.loc.gov/
INTRODUCTORY LANGUAGE REGARDING NASA'S NEW VISION:
"The recommendation includes funds to support NASA's new vision
and mission for space exploration, while supporting requested funds
for the continued operation of the Space Shuttle. The Committee is very
concerned about the need to maintain the nation's leadership in science
and technology. To this end, the Committee has provided additional funding
above the request for aeronautics research and science programs. The
recommendation makes modest changes to NASA's request to achieve a balance
between exploration and NASA's other core mission programs."
COMMITTEE CONCERN REGARDING THE AGENCY'S TRANSFER OF FUNDS:
"The Committee also notes that the reprogramming procedures outlined
in section 605 of this Act apply to the reallocation of funds over a
specified amount among budget programs, projects and activities, including
the reallocation of funding made available in previous fiscal years.
The Committee is concerned about the process of setting NASA priorities
through significant funding shifts in the operating plan rather than
through the regular appropriations process. The guidance provided in
the bill and report for fiscal year 2007 provides a clear base funding
level. The Committee must be notified of any deviations that meet the
criteria established in section 605. None of the funds provided under
this heading shall be for non-NASA construction projects."
SIZE OF NASA'S WORKFORCE:
"With respect to the agency's workforce, the Committee is concerned
with the budgetary impact of maintaining employment levels in excess
of what is needed to accomplish NASA's mission. The Committee expects
NASA to undertake the necessary workforce planning to correct what NASA
refers to as uncovered capacity'. The Committee supports NASA's
efforts to develop and maintain a world-class workforce."
SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION:
"NASA's Science, Aeronautics and Exploration (SAE) account provides
funding for the Science, Exploration Systems, and Aeronautics Research
Mission Directorates, and for Education programs and Cross-Agency Support
programs." The Administration requested an 8.3% or $803.1 million
increase in this budget, from the current $9,721.3 million to $10,524.4
million. The House bill reduced the request by $42.4 million to $10,482.0
One of the four directorates in this account is SCIENCE, for
which the Administration requested $5,330.0 million. The committee report
includes the following:
"The recommendation includes a total of $5,404,800,000 for the
Science Mission Directorate, an increase of $75,000,000 above the request
[a total increase over the current budget of 2.9% or $151.1 million].
Increases above the request include: $50,000,000 for research and analysis;
$15,000,000 to initiate planning for an orbiter/lander mission to Europa;
and $10,000,000 for Terrestrial Planet Finder for continued technology
"The Committee expects that the increase provided for research
and analysis will be allocated in an equitable fashion among all themes
of the Science Mission Directorate: Solar System Exploration, the Universe,
and the Earth-Sun System. The Committee is concerned about the damage
to our nation's research institutions that can result from the abrupt
and unexpected termination of peer-reviewed scientific research grants.
The Committee expects that NASA will avoid such actions in the future,
to the extent possible. When negotiating terms of university research
grants, NASA should include close-out provisions that retain adequate
flexibility for the agency, while at the same time providing sufficient
mechanisms for minimizing adverse impacts on university educational
and research programs.
"The National Academy of Sciences, Solar System Exploration Decadal
Survey of planetary scientists concluded that the highest priority of
the scientific community is an orbiter/lander mission to Jupiter's moon,
Europa. One of NASA's highest priorities is to search for life on other
planets, and the Decadal Survey of planetary scientists determined that
Europa has the highest probability of supporting life in our Solar System
because of the confirmed presence of a planet-wide ocean of liquid salt
water coupled with significant ocean bottom heat energy created by tidal
flexing. The chemical and heat energy created by mid-ocean volcanic
vents on the bottom of Earth's oceans have created communities of living
organisms that thrive in absolute darkness in conditions nearly identical
to the conditions that exist on the bottom of Europa's salt water oceans.
For these reasons, in last year's conference report, the Congress directed
NASA to begin planning for this mission, and to incorporate it into
NASA's fiscal year 2007 budget request. The recommendation includes
$15,000,000 for NASA to study and plan for a new start for the single
most important outer planetary mission of the Decadal Survey. The Committee
urges NASA to incorporate additional funding for a Europa mission as
part of its fiscal year 2008 budget request. The Committee expects that
NASA would implement this new start utilizing a purely peer review process
that capitalizes on proven capabilities to plan, design and execute
complex outer planetary missions.
"The recommendation provides funding for the continuation of the
Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF). TPF will study all aspects of planets
outside our solar system to find earthlike planets and study those planets'
ability to maintain life.
"The Committee supports NASA's efforts to plan for the extension
of the life of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and maintains that the
HST servicing mission should be one of NASA's top near-term priorities.
The recommendation provides requested funding for the HST servicing
mission; however, these funds should not be used to de-orbit HST.
"The recommendation includes the requested level of $98,500,000
for the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). This mission will permit
a dramatic leap in our understanding of many processes in astrophysics
and is a key mission in NASA's search for Earth-like planets and life.
Technologies being developed for SIM are also critical to the next generation
of space-based telescopes.
"The recommendation includes the requested level of $700,200,000
for Mars Exploration to ensure the continued successful implementation
of Phoenix in 2007, Mars Science Lab in 2009, Scout in 2011 and the
Mars orbiter in 2013 as well as the early technology work for later
missions and operations of ongoing missions.
"The Committee believes that NASA's scientific successes and discoveries
depend upon a well-balanced mission portfolio of large, medium, and
small-sized missions. Reductions from planned rates of growth in Science
funding appear to have fallen disproportionately on smaller missions
such as the competitively-run Explorer Program, which is one of NASA's
most important programs addressing critical scientific questions. Within
the funding level provided, the Committee encourages NASA to consider
a restoration of funding to smaller missions and to fund already-competed
missions to the extent possible.
"The Committee understands that NASA is in the process of reviewing
the future course of action on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared
Astronomy (SOFIA). The Committee encourages NASA to propose a reallocation
of funding through the regular reprogramming process should this review
result in a continuation of the program.
"The recommendation includes $443,100,000, as requested for the
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The Committee understands that the
JWST has been reaffirmed by a special Science Assessment Team as the
astronomy community's number one priority for the coming decade, and
is planned for a 2013 launch.
"A critical factor that will affect the future missions NASA can
initiate is the availability of power sources for probes that cannot
rely on solar energy because they are traveling too far from, or too
close to, the Sun. An Europa mission and the Solar Probe are examples.
Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) are required for these spacecraft.
For the past several years, Russia has been supplying the plutonium-238
(Pu-238) needed for U.S. RPSs because U.S. supplies are depleted. Now,
Russia's own supplies are running dry. In addition, NASA has curtailed
a major part of its technology development for advanced RPS devices.
Therefore, NASA, in consultation with the Department of Energy and other
appropriate agencies, shall submit a report to the Committee no later
than August 31, 2007 on these issues. The report shall address the status
of U.S. development of advanced RPS devices; a detailed explanation
of what steps are being taken to ensure an adequate supply of plutonium-238
for spacecraft missions; and an indication of how many RPSs, of what
design and capabilities, will be available for use, and when, to permit
effective planning for future missions.
A second directorate in this account is EXPLORATION SYSTEMS.
The Administration requested $3,978.3 million, which is a 30.4% or $928.2
million increase over the current budget of $3,050.1 million. The committee
report states: "The recommendation includes a total of $3,827,600,000
[a 25.5% or $777.5 million increase] for Exploration Systems. The recommendation
includes the requested funding levels for the Crew Exploration Vehicle,
the Crew Launch Vehicle, and International Space Station Cargo Crew
Services. The recommendation reduces funding for Constellation Systems
program support activities by $16,000,000.
"The recommendation includes $239,300,000 for Exploration Technology
Development. The Committee expects NASA to enter into an arrangement
with the National Research Council for an independent assessment of
NASA's restructured Exploration Technology Development program to determine
how well the program is aligned with the stated objectives of the Vision
for Space Exploration, identify any gaps, and assess the quality of
the research. This assessment shall be provided to the Committee within
one year after the enactment of this Act.
"The recommendation includes $252,700,000 for Robotic Lunar Exploration,
an increase of $118,400,000 over the current year level. The Committee
recognizes the importance of a robotic lunar lander mission in preparing
for future human exploration of the Moon, and therefore supports the
continuing work of the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program Office for
the development of the robotic lunar project.
"The Committee encourages NASA to allocate additional funding,
if possible, via the reprogramming process, for basic and applied microgravity
life and physical sciences, including the maintenance of a meaningful
program of peer-reviewed ground-based research. The Committee further
encourages NASA to establish an external advisory panel to guide research
priorities relative to microgravity life and physical sciences consistent
with the recommendations of the National Academies."
The third directorate in this account is AERONAUTICS RESEARCH.
There was considerable discussion on Capitol Hill about the administration's
proposed 18.1% or $159.7 million reduction in this funding from the
current budget of $884.1 million to $724.4 million. The House Appropriations
Committee objected to this request, stating in its committee report:
"The recommendation includes $824,400,000 for Aeronautics Research,
an increase of $100,000,000 above the request. The restoration of funds
reflects the Committee's concern about the direction NASA has taken
in downsizing and restructuring its Aeronautics Research program. While
the United States is reducing its Federal investment in aeronautics
research our competitors are increasing their aeronautics research and
development budgets and making competitiveness their number one priority.
While the Committee strongly supports the President's new vision for
robotic and manned exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond, it is
imperative that we not forget the importance of aeronautics research
to our domestic economy. The Committee notes that NASA is in the process
of developing a National Aeronautics Policy to be delivered to the Congress
in the fall of 2006."
Another major NASA budget is that for Exploration Capabilities which
provides funding for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle,
and Space and Flight Support. The Administration requested $6,234.4
million, a reduction of 4.4% from the current budget of $6,869.7 million.
The House Appropriations Committee cut this budget further, its report
"The Committee recommends $6,193,500,000 for exploration capabilities,
a decrease of $41,422,000 below the budget request and $384,401,000
[a cut of 9.8% or $676.2 million] below the fiscal year 2006 base enacted
level. The recommendation includes a decrease of $33,400,000 below the
request for the International Space Station (ISS). The Committee believes
that this small reduction is appropriate given the uncertainties surrounding
the nature and scope of the science to be conducted on the ISS. The
recommendation assumes that this reduction will be taken from the amount
requested for Multi-User Systems and Support. The remaining portion
of the reduction below the request is a general reduction to support
functions and institutional investments funded through general and administrative
charges. The Committee expects that this reduction will be spread back
to program activities throughout this account proportionally.
"In order to ensure that the ISS will be used effectively to test
technologies in support of exploration, the Committee directs NASA to
enter into an arrangement with the National Research Council for an
independent assessment of how the ISS can best be used as a technology
testbed in support of the stated objectives of the Vision for Space
Exploration. The assessment should evaluate NASA's plans, identify any
gaps, and determine the time required to achieve stated objectives under
the planned funding profile for ISS testbed activities. This assessment
shall be provided to the Committee within one year after the enactment
of this Act. In addition, the Committee directs NASA to provide a plan
to the Committee by March 31, 2007 for utilizing the ISS for fundamental
materials science research."
Other sections of the report include language on the Office of Inspector
General and Administrative Provisions.